Soumya Prakash Pradhan

The tech landscape is rapidly evolving with giants like Google and Meta leading the way. However, there is a challenge when it comes to understanding regional languages, particularly in India, which boasts numerous languages.

India has a rich linguistic diversity, with 122 major languages and 1599 others. One such regional language is Odia, spoken in Odisha. Despite the tech advancements, the support for Odia language has been lacking.

In the tech journey, the number one search engine, Google, on February 28, 2020, took a step to support the language by allowing the people of Odisha to translate the Odia language into other languages. However, Google has not given preference to Odia since then.

When a user opens the homepage of Google, nine languages are listed under the search box with the caption, 'Google offered in...' and 'Odia' is not among the list of regional languages.

Shifting the focus to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, owned by Meta, there are issues with language translation. Even though Google Translate's feature is in sync with Meta, this is causing issues, and the translation is not being done correctly.

As Google builds its platform and trains it with the Odia language, the same features and capabilities are showcased on Meta platforms. Despite efforts, the translation often portrays incorrect meanings, affecting the quality of information shared on social media.

Even the No 1 Odia news channel, OTV, faces the challenges. While they make efforts to connect with audience through webpages and video content, the translation problem persists on social media, where Odia text is inaccurately translated, leading to confusion and misinformation.

Despite these efforts, many people are not getting access to Odisha content. The Odisha Television Network aims to connect netizens to the latest information about Odisha and beyond, covering a wide spectrum of subjects. But the problem lies in social media where posting Odia text results in incorrect translations.

The Meta platform syncs the translation feature with Google, and when Odia text is translated on social media, it often showcases wrong meanings.

Non-Odia people enabling auto-translate on the Meta-owned Facebook platform face issues, as the trained Odia language in their database does not translate well.

The translations are in poor English, and the meaning is distorted, potentially leading to misunderstandings.

Examples of such issues are numerous. For instance, a news piece in Odia about a court sentence is translated as '10 years imprisonment and 3 lakh fine for a fraud of 2 crore' on Facebook.

Odia content creators disgruntled


Odia content creators disgruntled


Odia content creators disgruntled


In the past, Odia digital content creators, while speaking to in 2022, expressed concerns about Google's non-recognition of the Odia language, foreseeing significant losses for Odia-based content creators catering to regional readers or users.

People of Odisha, through various platforms, have urged Meta-owned platforms to address these issues. The platforms may correct these issues temporary, but again the concern is that when new Odia words emerge, the problem may recur.

The main issue is that tech giants need to upgrade their databases and improve language training for AI programmes to bridge this language gap effectively.